Tag Archives: Permit

Developer Closes Grove Isle Club?

Having closed shared club and residents parking lots on the island, despite easements to the contrary, the developer has now circulated an open letter regarding the future of the Grove Isle Club, which he owns and operates for the benefit of residents of Grove IsleIn this letter, the developer has asked residents to make a false choice between membership options which effectively compromises their rights and closes the club.  Just how low can you go?

Grove Isle Club

Grove Isle Club Developer message was left at residents’ doors yesterday

The Board of Directors has distributed the following message to residents: “We suggest owners consider withholding any response to the Club letter seeking a membership choice while our legal team evaluates the potential effect on our rights. You will receive further information early next week.” PGI concurs with the Board and believes – especially in the absence of notification to members that the Club would close – that this request of the Club’s owners is deceptive and serves to minimize the responsibility for the abandonment of the Grove Isle Club by the Club owner.  A copy of the Board’s response may be accessed [by clicking here].

PGI strongly believes that residents should not respond to the developer’s proposed options.

Furthermore, with the commissioner candidates for District #2 visiting Grove Isle on 15 April, it will be important to direct to them specific questions concerning development of Grove Isle, the North Grove and Coconut Grove in general.

This is an important opportunity to change the current dynamics by finding politicians that seem more in step with our values.

Grove Isle Coconut Grove Miami DC 2 Election

Grove Isle Invites Miami District 2 Commission Candidates (click image to open)

We provide the following background on this issue for your ease of reference:

  1. All of the residents of Grove Isle are obligatory members of the Grove Isle Club, and pay substantial dues to belong.
  2. The Club provides the amenities for the residents, as meticulously described and defined in the Settlement Agreement of 1977. These amenities are valuable and part of the condominium purchase package.  These include access to the hotel, restaurant, bar, pool deck, function rooms, spa and tennis courts.
  3. None of the resident members of the Club have received any notice of the Club closing. In contrast, members regularly receive multiple announcements via email and/or leafleting of special activities and functions at the Club.
  4. Residents have now received a communication from the Club NOT ANNOUNCING ITS CLOSURE but rather offering members the option of suspending their membership dues while the Grove Isle Club is closed or continue to pay their dues and use the Club at the Biltmore Hotel during this period.
  5. The Developer still has not obtained the necessary permits for construction of a new Club. Specifically, no demolition permit has been issued by the City of Miami.
  6. The current Grove Isle Club is non-conforming to Miami 21 since it is a commercial activity in an area zoned for restricted activities (e.g. residential). If the Grove Isle Club, which is currently grandfathered and thus protected from Miami 21, is shuttered, it will lose its grandfather rights.
  7. Under Miami 21, a new Grove Isle Club cannot be constructed in a T5-R zone. The implication is that upon closure of the Club, Grove Isle will never have another club or its associated amenities.
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Grove Isle Developer Fails to Respond to Residents… Again.

Manatee and pup visiting Grove Isle

Manatee and pup recently enjoying the sea grass around Grove Isle

Grove Isle residents recently received an update from the island’s Board of Directors. 

 The key points of this update are as follows:

  • The Association is initiating legal proceedings against the developer who has failed to respond to residents’ questions regarding the loss of shared parking on the island.  Prior agreements between the owners of 1-2-3 Grove Isle (the Association) and 4 Grove Isle (hotel, club, spa, etc.) provide easements to the other’s properties, as defined in recorded documents.
  • The City of Miami has not approved or declined the developer’s request to demolish the Grove Isle Club.  The Association has voiced strong opposition to demolition in the absence of a building permit.
  • As an internal matter, completely separate from the issues with the Developer, the capital improvements assessment is undergoing a value engineering review.  A group of concerned residents have asked for (and sponsored) a peer review process of the capital improvements project(s) before the Board of Directors passes a resolution to proceed with these works.

A copy of the Board’s memo follows below (click image to open document).

Grove Isle BOD memo 27 March 2015

Grove Isle memo 27 March 2015 (click to open)

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Grove Isle: legal & parking update

And now bicycles…

The developer has now demanded that Building III’s bike room be emptied — and residents have been given seven days to vacate this space.

During Monday’s Board of Directors’ meeting, Tony Recio of Weiss Serota,  presented a much appreciated legal update regarding the developer’s various plans for the island.   Excerpts of this meeting, which include comments regarding the mediation process and parking saga, may be reviewed by clicking this [link] or the image below.

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Grove Isle: New member-only valet parking policy

 

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Yesterday the developer sent out the March Grove Isle Club calendar.   On the back is a notice that complimentary valet parking is now being offered to all Club members.   This appears like a retreat on the developer’s previous position (see previous posts).

This last development shows at best poor planning and communication from the developer, or at worst an attempt to manipulate the feelings of as many people on the island as possible.

The simple fact is that Grove Isle could not have been built without enough parking spaces.   An agreed number of shared spaces (our research shows this to be 111 spots) was/is a city requirement.

We trust that the Grove Isle Board will continue to robustly deal with this dispute.

 

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Grove Isle: developer’s tow trucks ordered off the island

tow truck grove isle

Miami Police were present with tow trucks on Grove Isle at 6am this morning

Extremely rapid action by our Board and lawyers halted the latest parking action by the 4 Grove Isle developer.  An emergency injunction was issued in our favor at 8.19pm on Sunday.  This court order was shown to the police at 6.00am this morning.  The police then ordered the developer’s tow trucks off the island.  The Board expects the matter to be addressed in court later this week.

A copy of the Board’s latest memo regarding this matter follows below (click image to open).

grove isle parking developer injunction

GI Board memo regarding injunction regarding developer’s parking action (click image to open)

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Grove Isle (Over) Development 101

Rendering of Sailboat Key (38 Storey)

Rendering of Sailboat Key / Grove Isle (4 x 38 Storey)

The goal of Preserve Grove Isle is to provide to residents of Grove Isle and the public in general accurate and objective information related to the history of development and the legal issues related to proposed development of 4 Grove Isle.  We have worked to provide accurate and detailed information to make certain that the issues before Grove Isle, Grove Isle Associates (the Developer) and the City of Miami are transparent.  After all, “sunshine” is what makes Miami, and sunshine on these issues is good for the public interest.

Please scroll down to read a summary of our research.

Sailboat Key (Grove Isle) 4 Towers & Club with Parking

Sailboat Key / Grove Isle Towers, Club with Extensive Parking

To this end, under the “Documents” tab on the home page, we have made available public documents, including contracts, filings, permits, and plans related to the proposed development of 4 Grove Isle.  Some of these documents are very old, dating back into the 1970’s, whereas others are recent.  These documents provide the legal basis for our claim that the Settlement Agreement of 1977, signed by the City of Miami, the then owner/developers and those from Coconut Grove who originally opposed the proposed plan of development of Sailboat Key on Fair Isle, limits further development of Grove Isle.

Alternative Rendering of Sailboat Key (1500 Car spaces)

Alternative Rendering of Sailboat Key / Grove Isle

In summary, the documents show:

1]  Grove Isle’s original development was complicated by legal and political action.  The local community was in total opposition to the development and expressly the overdevelopment of an undeveloped island with its plan to build four 40 story towers with 2000 units and 1500 parking spaces.

2]  The process resulted in a compromise that shaped the island as we see it now. After significant litigation, the Settlement of 1977 defined what would be allowed and the location of all of the elements, including the club on the eastern shore of the island.

3]  Building permits were issued, three 18 story towers and one five story tower were built and certificates of occupancy issued—all within the constraints of the Settlement of 1977.

4] Sale of 4 Grove Isle in March 2013 and plan to build an 18 story residential tower on the site of the hotel/restaurant/club—after over 30 years without change on the island.

5] Weiss-Serota Memorandum of Law claiming the absence of vested rights to build an 18 story tower based on the Settlement of 1977 and the importance of current zoning law, Miami 21.

Grove Isle Condominiums and Club Rendering

Grove Isle Condominiums and Club Rendering

For access to the PGI document archive please go to the DOCUMENTS section of this web site. .

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Grove Isle: Seduction… or Attempted Seduction

Grove Isle New Club Facilities are presented

Grove Isle New Club House Presentation

At the request of the Developer—now the Club owner, an informational meeting was held for the Grove Isle Club membership about the future plans for the Club. If would appear that this was a work-around the Grove Isle Board so that the Developer’s associates had direct access to a subset of the residents.  Neither the Developer nor his real estate lawyers were in attendance.

Call to Order

Discussion was limited to the Grove Isle Club. All other discussions were “off limits.”  The general goal of this meeting was for the developer to “make nice” to the residents, with an attempt to attract their support for his project.  For the record, a description of the high points of the meeting follows but there was little of substance that relates to his progress on the overall plan.

Maintenance Issues

The developer has owned and operated the Grove Isle Club for approximately 1½ years, and the consensus has been that this club, dilapidated from the start, has only deteriorated further. Furthermore , the hotel, part of 4 Grove Isle, has also received poor reviews on Tripadvisor.  These recent external reviews speak poorly of the entire property, including the tennis courts, the spa, etc. The Grove Isle Board has requested improved maintenance, and the opening of this informational meeting was moderated by a lawyer representing the Club.  She stressed that the Developer was committed to bringing the current facilities up to normal standards.  A representative of the Club listed a number of items that have been either in the process of being repaired or have been fixed. Our understanding is that a significant amount of repairs remain outstanding.

Grove Isle Club

Grove Isle Club Members and Residents Listen

Timing of demolition of Club Facilities

The lawyer, who was representing the Developer, emphasized that the proposed demolition has not been approved and permitted by the city. She was not able to state when an application for demolition would be submitted.  She acknowledged that no demolition or construction could be initiated without the proper permitting.  She stated that the Grove Isle Board is being kept abreast of any developments.

New Club Facilities

The architects presented their plan for the new Grove Isle Club. It is four stories, 66 feet in height, and has parking located on the bottom floor—for a total of five floors.  The program includes a restaurant for 130 occupants, a bar, a card room, a spa, and a variety of other amenities.  There are two outdoor pools:  a family pool and a second adult pool.  This proposed Club would be compliant with Miami 21, and would be located on the position of the current spa and 2-3 tennis courts between Buildings 2 and 3, facing the marina.  (Please note that the Developer has asked the City of Miami to rezone the part of the property where the current hotel/restaurant/spa are located to allow for the construction of a residential condominium tower.)

Alternative club facilities during construction

During construction, Grove Isle Club members would have Social and Fitness privileges at the Biltmore Hotel. This hotel is located about 5½ miles from Grove Isle.   Please note that the Biltmore memberships are operated on an individual basis whereas Grove Club membership is on a residential unit basis (thus includes family and children).

Club dues during construction

For those who prefer not to retain their membership during the construction period, membership dues would be suspended. However, it was clear that membership in new club would be a requirement of residency on Grove Isle, as it is currently.

Update Club Rules after construction

Residents would still be required to be members of the Club. There would be some modernization of the rules.  There was no mention of potential changes in the cost of annual dues.

Q&A

During the question and answer period, the membership in attendance recognized this presentation for what it was: An attempt to win over the support of the Grove Isle residents, going around the Board, and to propose a beautiful, elegant new club to replace a poorly maintained existing club for which the residents of Grove Isle are required to pay approximately $1 million per year to belong.  Many comments from the audience emphasized the purpose of this meeting:  the seduction of the residents with this new facility, with the hope of distracting them from the real issue:  the presence, scope and location of the new proposed residential condominiums. The strategy appeared obvious to all members in attendance:  the new Grove Isle Club would be relocated for a marina view on the land currently occupied by some of the tennis courts, and the current location of the Club/hotel/pools would be reserved for as yet undefined new residential condominiums.  Some important issues were raised about the Club itself:  Could such an elegant club with high end facilities be supported by the closed membership of residents?  What will happen to the cost of dues in the future (it is highly unusual for a for-profit company to provide amenities for a condo association, particularly when membership is required)?  Some stated that this ultramodern glitzy facility, likened to a space ship by some, is completely out of character with the current buildings and property.

Comments

In all, the membership appeared angry and adversarial. The architects, to their credit, have tried to approach this design in a professional way.  The underlying issue was that they were being used by the Developer to sell his primary project—i.e. the plans for residential condominiums.  This project is still entangled in many legal obstacles.  Would the developer elect to build the new club facilities on the current footprint of the Club in the absence of permits for the new condominiums?  Surely not.

Overall, this was a sideshow in the continuing saga of the attempt to develop 4 Grove Isle. It is the belief of many that whether development of the island occurs will be based on legal issues, including the Settlement of 1977, current zoning laws (Miami 21) and market forces that may play a greater role as Miami luxury construction over-expands.  There continues to be little support from residents of Grove Isle for any further development.

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Developer Moves to Rezone 4 Grove Isle

Priceless views from Grove Isle

4 Grove Isle Hotel & Club Views – priceless and still neglected

The 4 Grove Isle Developer has now submitted an alternative plan for the island to the City of Miami.  The new application mentions a 12 story tower on a development area which excludes the tennis club.  As such, this is a more sophisticated attempt to split the island and test the resolve of the community against further high density development.

Rezoning is required as the project will still not be in keeping with the Miami21 planning regime — a structure which should provide a foundation for real estate decisions.   Furthermore, it is not yet clear what effect this will have on club amenities or how the developer intends to overcome the serious logistic and environmental constraints of the island.

Needless to say local residents, both on and off the island, and the real estate market have been ‘spooked’ by this project.  Perhaps it is also partly responsible for the recent high profile departure from our neighbourhood…

For further detail on this update please click on the Board memo image below.  Please also share your insights on this topic in the comment section below.

Grove Isle Board Memo July 24 2014

Grove Isle Board Memo July 24 2014 (click to open)

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GROVE ISLE: One if by land and two if by sea redux

Although there remain many legal, environmental and political issues to be resolved before any development can proceed on Grove Isle, we believe the logistical issues of developing a large new project on the far side of a small island, already with over 500+ residential condominiums, quite daunting. To obtain detailed analysis and expert consideration from a third party removed from this discussion, we queried an experienced construction engineer in order to obtain a professional opinion. The comments made regard either the developer’s Plan A (the tower) or Plan B (five story horizontal development), both of roughly equivalent size. We specifically wished to learn the options that any contractor would have for the demolition phase, the construction phase, and the completion phase.

Grove Isle has long sought to protect its bridge from high weight loads

Grove Isle has long sought to protect its bridge from high weight loads

The challenge is that this is a large project proposed on a very tight, thin and long slice of Grove Isle. This island, connected to the mainland by a two lane causeway that is rated for 15 tons, is fully occupied and the primary residence for many families. Plan A is positioned on the exact opposite side of the island from the causeway entrance. The island is surrounded by Biscayne Bay, and the bay is about 2-4 feet deep within a half mile of the island perimeter except where dredging was performed to approximately eight feet many decades ago in the marina area.

fencing and demolition

Grove Isle demolition and construction threats

Preparation phase: During the preparation phase space for the trucks, supplies, workers’ parking will be reserved and secured. Presumably, chain linked fencing and lighting will be installed to minimize theft and vandalism of construction materials. There will be signage for resident traffic detours, placement of construction trailers, and the need to reserve a large area for outgoing debris and incoming building materials. Given that 4 Grove Isle covers about 40% of the circumference of the island, all of these activities will necessarily be in close proximity of 1, 2 and 3 Grove Isle.

Traffic Issue

Grove Isle Drive provides access to 500 family homes

Demolition phase: During the demolition phase, the existing hotel, club building, spa, roadways, parking structures and other related structures will be demolished, and the debris, asphalt, concrete, glass and metal removed. As a crude estimate, our consultant suggests that this will involve the removal off-island of about 15,000 tons of debris. Given the 15 ton limit of the causeway, approximately 1000 dump truck runs will be required if removal is by land. If removal is by sea, standard dump barges would be used. These barges, which hold about 2400 tons of debris, draw 14 feet of water. Six or seven barges would be required. However, nowhere in Biscayne Bay is the water depth 14 feet. Either a channel would need to be dredged from the ocean to approximately 16 feet deep or many more but much smaller barges that draw considerably less water could be used.  Nonetheless, there is currently no channel to the island to support even medium size barges. See the image of the government chart of Biscayne Bay below. Grove Isle is shown within the large red circle.  A number of the depth readings, also circled in red, are  indicated in feet.

Map showing depth of bay around Grove Isle

Sea grass and the limited depths of Biscayne Bay surround Grove Isle

Construction phase: In this phase, the 18 story tower (Plan A) or multiple lower sized buildings (Plan B) will be constructed on the development site. This involves the building of the foundation, preparation of elevator shafts, and assembly of the steel framework. Next, concrete is poured for floors, and exterior windows and facades installed. When tight to weather, the interior walls are built, and the plumbing, electrical and HVAC installed. Finally, interior walls are tiled or painted, appliances and cabinetry installed, and floors laid with wood, carpet or stone. Modern construction techniques usually perform many of these activities in parallel, from the lower floors to the top floors, in sequence. This entails the delivery to the island and to the construction site specifically of about 30,000 tons of materials, including cement, steel, glass, mechanicals, HVAC, etc. Again, from the analysis above, this will require over 2000 trailer trucks and cement trucks or many specialty barges to accomplish importation of these materials. Furthermore, new roads and parking areas will need to be built.

delivery traffic

The proposed project may involve thousands of journeys to move over 30,000 tons of material on to our island

Completion phase: There will be a “clean up and furnishings phase” where all the construction infrastructure will be removed and the luxury property prepared for sale. Many of these apartments will be custom designed by new owners working with their own group of decorators, contractors and subcontractors. The windows, glass walls, mechanicals, railings, paint and all the interior common furnishings are loaded at this phase. Depending on how well these new units sell, this period could be relatively short (six months) to multiple years. All new residents will need to move in and load their personal furniture and furnishings.

developer dredge biscayne bay

Grove Isle developer dredging threat to Grove Isle and Biscayne Bay

Duration: The duration of this development can be approximated using a construction “time line.” The estimate for a project of this scope, with its attendant logistical issues, is at best 2.5 to 3 years for preparation and building construction. This assumes NO legal or unexpected events, unforeseen environmental issues, and the absence of labor strikes. Custom design and modifications of each unit by their owner could take at least an additional year. If the developer were to obtain all permits necessary to begin construction in early 2016—one and a half years from now—the project would be completed by 2020. In the interim, much of the island would be a construction site. The effect on sales of existing condos is uncertain but there is no reason to believe that construction on this scale would enhance valuations. More likely, turnover of condos during this period would be decreased and price per square foot would diminish. After 2020, valuations become more difficult to predict.

Preserve Grove Isle

Note: All values and statements cited above are based on our opinions and estimates

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Grove Isle briefed by legal advisors on development threat

Rowing on Biscayne Bay - Grove Isle

Ready to pull hard as crew sets off near Grove Isle

Attorneys representing our Association and working with the Board, presented their thoughts on the proposed development on Grove Isle and the status of on-going litigation to the Association members that were able to attend on Monday evening.  This meeting was well attended and the presentation enlightening.  In initial comments, Gilberto Pastoriza of Weiss Serota confirmed that he was hired by the Association to investigate the legal basis for the rapid development of the tower proposal (now known as Plan A) by the current owners of 4 Grove Isle, with Mr. Avila as the spokesperson for this consortium.

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Gilberto Pastoriza of Weiss Serota briefs residents on the developer’s proposals for Grove Isle

Mr Pastoriza emphasized that this development, unbeknownst to the members of the Association, was on a fast track for approval by the city.  “The train was going full speed.  Our job was to stop the train.”  Indeed, with their preparation of the Memorandum questioning the legality of vested rights from the Settlement of 1977 and its distribution to city officials, the developer’s plan is now on hold by the City. This presentation, which was in depth, was successful and informational.  They mentioned that there are various points of view from Association members, including those most concerned about amenities, those most concerned about protracted construction, and those most concerned about any construction on Grove Isle in general.

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John Lukacs of Hinshaw & Culbertson updates residents regarding the Association’s successful appeal

It also became clear that the Association members are dependent on a second party, the owners of 4 Grove Isle, to provide them most of the amenities that the Association enjoys (e.g. tennis courts, fitness center/spa, restaurant) and yet the owners, who operate these facilities at a profit, may (or may not—that is a legal issue) have the right to discontinue such amenities.  Mr. Avila’s Plan B includes discontinuation of many of the amenities that the Association members have enjoyed over the past 30+ years but is said to be within the current zoning ordinances of Miami 21.  In addition, John Lukacs of Hinshaw & Culbertson, who also represents the Association, discussed the reversal by the appellate court of the pending suit by the Association against the Club (i.e. 4 Grove Isle), and this suit will be litigated once again, hopefully to the advantage of the Association and its members.

Appeal Report Image

The pending suit by the Association against the Club (i.e. 4 Grove Isle) will likely be litigated once again

The lawyers claimed that the Association members on Grove Isle do NOT have to choose between two bad choices, Plan A (the tower) versus Plan B (5 five story buildings occupying much of the land that is owned by the developer). They emphasized that we have other options….and we, the residents of Grove Isle, are empowered to decide what we want for our future here.

It is now clear from the predictions of the recent poll that a majority of the residents on the island want no development based on what they have seen and heard. “The Grove Isle opinion poll continues to assess the views of Association members and is surpassing our expectations.”  It seems as the entire island is waking up to the fact that they really enjoy this island “the way it is”.  Like the old adage, “you take your health for granted until you lose it,” we don’t always appreciate something important in our lives—including the ambience of Grove Isle–until we are about to lose it.

We will be headed for a requested mediation (non binding) with the city, the developer and Grove Isle representatives on 21 April.  It is very possible that this start date may be delayed.  We feel that this mediation will expose the “no further development position” to all, based upon the opinion poll in progress.

Please keep your letters and e-mails going out to the Miami administrators and elected officials….they are very valuable.  You will find this info on this site at this location (click here).

Thank you for the many, many comments and opinions on this PGI website.  It shows the interest and unity of the Grove Isle residents.  It is times such as this that bring a community together.

You may also now follow developments and share information regarding our island on Facebook and Google+. Click on the icons below for a link to these sites.

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Grove Isle Association issues clarification regarding development presentation

A copy of the latest memorandum from the Grove Isle Condominium Association re the developer’s presentation is attached for your information.   To read the memo please click the image below.

Grove Isle Condo Assoc Memo 19 March 2014

Grove Isle Condo Assoc Memo 19 March 2014

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Coconut Grove Village Council to be updated on Grove Isle developments

Preserve Grove Isle is expanding its information base regarding this unpopular Grove Isle development to our friends and neighbors in “The Grove”.   Background regarding the proposal will be discussed at the next  Coconut Grove Village Council meeting.  This is scheduled to take place on Tuesday March 25th  at Frankie Rolle building [3750 South Dixie Highway] at 7pm.

Coconut Grove Council Meeting

Coconut Grove Council Meeting Agenda – March 25, 2014

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Grove Isle Board respond to recent developer communications

As you may be aware, the Board and Committee has written two responses to threatening communications from the developer.  Copies of these are included below for your ease of reference.  The Committee awaits legal advice and will respond to developments regarding the project shortly.

Grove Isle Board response

Grove Isle Board response to developer (21 February 2014)

Grove Isle Board response to developer communications (28 February 2014)

Grove Isle Board response to developer (28 February 2014)

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Grove Isle proposed new tower — Condo Association receives legal opinion

Approximate Position and Oriention of Proposed Tower for Grove Isle

Approximate Position and Orientation of Proposed Tower for Grove Isle

The Preserve Grove Isle Committee is pleased to share with you the legal opinion received from attorneys engaged by Grove Isle Condominium Association.  The opinion concerns the legality of the demolition of the Glove Isle Hotel and Club and its replacement with a 18 story residential tower.   It is certainly an interesting read as it outlines the key aspects of the proposal and its (lack of) planning merit.   The attorneys have noted that the proposal marks “a stunning departure from established law in reversing more than 30 years of legislation.” 

Please click this link or icon below to receive your copy.

Legal Opinion Icon

Grove Isle Proposed New Tower – Condo Association Legal Opinion

Please ensure that you subscribe to our mailing list at the bottom of this page.  This way you will better informed and fully aware of developments as they happen — do encourage others to do the same.

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What do you think? Make your views known!

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